Chapter 12

Dawn left Kelley's with Thomas' words preying heavily on her mind. She knew that he was right. No one else could tell her which man should receive her attention first. The answer was buried inside of her. As she reached the condo, she could think of nothing else and soon, she made a decision. She would call him as soon as she was settled.

"Hi…Dawn."

The deep masculine voice greeted her as soon as she opened the door. Startled for a moment, Dawn's hand flew threw to her throat. When she recognized the man behind the voice, a frown of irritation creased her brow. Expelling a low breath, she said, "Frank. What are you doing here?"

"Robin let me in… I had to see you," he admitted as he left his perch at the fireplace and strode across the room to her side. "We need to talk about what happened."

"Now?" she asked, brushing past him to hang her coat up in the closet.

His face clouded over and he swallowed hard. Tilting his head to the side, he asked, "Is this a bad time?"

"Well…" she hedged, "I was planning to… Um… Nevermind. You're right. We should talk now."

"You had plans with Cassadine, didn't you?" he asked, his mouth in tight line. "Don't lie to me."

She turned away from the closet to face him with her arms folded across her chest. "Who I have plans with is absolutely none of your business, Francis Scanlon! You said that you wanted to talk. We can do that, but I'm telling you now that if you came over here to give me a hard time about Nikolas, you can turn right back around-"

"Okay!" he cried, raising his hands in a defensive gesture. "I didn't come over here to talk about him. Well, I did…but… I don't want to fight with you."

A sigh escaped her. "I don't want to fight either. I'm tired of all this fighting. We never fought like this before. What's happened?"

Heat turned his cheeks pink. With a shrug, he turned away from her. "I don't know."

Frank headed back to the sofa and Dawn followed him. "Are you sure?" she questioned him. "I kept help but think I've done something…to upset you. I can't think of what that could be…except…"

"Except what?" he asked in a hoarse whisper.

Dawn took a deep breath before she answered him. Tilting her head upwards, she looked him in the eyes. "Grow up."

~*~

"I really shouldn't be here…"

The thought would not stray from Keesha's mind, and as she closed the door to Stone's room behind her, she found herself saying the words aloud. The last place on earth that she should be was in Stone's room after-hours, but when the interns disbanded after hours of caroling the patients, her feet betrayed her. And there she was, standing beside Stone's bed and looking down at his handsome, sleeping face.

"Keesha Ward, what are you doing, girl?" she whispered under breath. Guilt and longing battled inside her. Confused about her motive, she took a step backwards and moved to leave the room.

"Keesha?" Stone whispered with a smile after his eyes had fluttered opened.

"H-Hi, Stone…" She offered him a tentative smile. "I'm sorry I disturbed you. Go back to sleep." "No," he said with a welcoming smile. He shifted on the bed until he sat up straight in the bed. The sheet fell from his chest to land at his waist. The moonlight streaming through window revealed that his bare, muscled chest. Oblivious to Keesha's gasp, he held out his hand and said, "Come, Keesha. Sit." He patted the space on his bed.

Suddenly, her throat felt parched. Keesha swallowed hard to alleviate the dryness, but it didn't help. "Um…Stone… I should go."

"No, Keesha. Stay."

His soft voice commanded as his gentle eyes pleaded with her. She found herself unable to resist him. She took the necessary steps to come closer to his bed. When she was close enough, he took her hand and pulled her until she sat down beside him. Smiling at her, he kept her hand in a firm grasp.

"You should be asleep," she tried to scold him. He smiled in response and her resolve disappeared. "I really shouldn't be here."

"Why?" he asked. "I like your visits. I don't want you to leave."

"I like visiting you, too," she responded. "I like seeing that you're getting better."

"Yes. I can walk now," he said with a beaming smile.

"Yeah," she said, chuckling good-naturedly at the pride she saw in his eyes and heard in his voice. "You've made a lot of progress over the weeks. Dr. Jones said that you'll be going home soon."

Stone's face had darkened at the mention of the doctor. The dislike of the older man lessened as his eyes shone with curiosity. "Home?" he repeated.

Keesha nodded. "Yes, home. He said that you're well enough to leave the hospital. You won't have to stay here anymore. I'm sure your family and Robin will be very happy to hear that."

Trembling slightly, he shook his head. "Will I go with Robin?"

Guilt washed over her as he said his fiancée's name. Conscious of their hands, she tried to pull free. Stone only tightened his grip in response. She gave up and tried to hide her feelings with a sunny smile. "I think Sonny is planning to have you stay with him at the penthouse. I'm positive that Robin will spend lots of time with you. You won't be-"

"Will you visit me, Keesha?" he asked quietly. His gaze dropped down to their entwined hands. His thumbs rubbed across the back of her hand. As she gasped, he looked up at her. "Keesha?" he murmured as he watched her lick her lips.

"I…um…" With a flick of his tongue across his lips, he mimicked her movements. All of a sudden, she was at a lost. Her heart hammered wildly in her chest and every breath hurt. Common sense demanded that she stand up and put some distance between them. Instinct dictated that shift closer to him. In the end, she did neither.

Taking a moment to gather her senses, Keesha looked away from him. Her voice was husky as she answered him. "Sonny and I don't get along. I doubt if he'd want me to come over. Stone, I'm not sure if I will visit…"

"No?" he asked for clarification. When she continued to stare at the wall, he placed his fingertips underneath her chin. He gently pushed until their eyes met again. "Keesha, visit me!"

She shook her head. "Stone, I…"

"Please, Keesha," he begged. "You are my friend."

Looking deeply into his eyes, she began, "But I can't visit you there."

"I won't go," he decided. "I stay here. With you."

"You can't do that," she told him. "You are better now and you don't have to stay here. You will like living with Sonny."

Unable to stop herself, Keesha rolled her eyes. Stone picked up on her feelings instantly. "You don't like Sonny," he said knowingly. "You won't visit me because you don't like him. I won't go with him-"

"Stone, please. Sonny cares about you. You're like a brother to him. Don’t refuse his offer because of me," she implored.

"You will visit me," he demanded more than requested.

Stubbornness gleamed in his eyes. Keesha found the look strangely appealing. She didn't appreciate being manipulated, but she was certain that Stone didn't know exactly what he was doing. Besides, he risked his life for her. Was there really any way she could refuse him?

With a quick nod, she said, "I will visit you."

"Thank you, Keesha," he said softly, voicing the words of gratitude that she had taught him.

"You're welcome," she said. She gave his hand a firm squeeze before she rose from the bed. Backing towards the door, she waved at him. "Good night, Stone."

"Good night, Keesha," he called out as she pulled the door open.

A smile of contentment was on his face as she left him and lightness was in her heart. Something was definitely happening, and she wasn't sure if she wanted whatever it was to stop.

~*~

Thomas lagged behind Lynn as he followed her to her hotel suite. She glanced over her shoulder to look back him. Earlier as they worked together, she had been tempted to question his mood, but had thought better. Now with work behind them, she could not ignore her curiosity any longer. Pausing in front of the door to her suite, she turned around to look up into his gleaming emerald eyes. "Is everything okay?"

"Hmm?" he asked, a frown on his brow. "Why do you ask?"

"Off and on tonight, you've been miles away," she admitted. "I would hate to pry and I don't want to intrude, but… Is something wrong? Maybe I could help…"

"Would you help me if you could?" he asked, teasing smile on his lips. "You are very generous to offer…"

Lynn's laughter caught them both by surprise. Pointing a slender finger at him, she said, "You behave yourself."

"What did I say?" he asked. His broad shoulders shrugged to complete his picture of innocence. "Oh, my," he said softly, taking a step towards her, "what did you think I meant?"

"I wasn't born yesterday, Mr. Hardy," she countered with an all-knowing look. "I know what you're up to and I can take a hint. The matter is private. I won't pry-"

"No," he said, seriously. "It's not really private. Well, it's not about me personally. A friend of mine may be in trouble and I've been trying to think of a way to help her."

"Hmm…"

"Wait a sec!" he said. Shaking his head, he told her, "She's not my girlfriend or anything. She's a friend. I just want to make that clear."

Smiling, Lynn said, "Oh, did you? Why is that?"

"Because," he said as he took her hand, "I like to tease, but when it comes to affairs of the heart, I've a very serious man. I'm also direct and I didn't want you to think there's another woman in my life right now. Because there isn't."

Dazzled by the sparkling of his eyes and the deep resonance of his voice, Lynn drew in a deep breath to steady her racing heartbeat. "You said…another woman…?"

"I was referring to… you," he admitted. He held her small hand between his two larger ones. "I would like to get to know you better… And not just on a professional basis. Do you have any objections to us spending time together?"

"Stefan may…it could become awkward…I'm older…" she hedged. She found herself weakening as he shook her head at everything she said.

"Stefan is our employer, but he has no say in our personal lives. It could be awkward only if we allow it. And yes, you are older," he said with a shrug. "Big deal. Now, other than that, do you have any real objections?"

Staring at him, she could only shake her head. "Not one."

"Just as I suspected, Ms. Peters," he said with a warm smile, "and I assure you that you everything will work out just fine."

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